Tuesday roundup: Rosen fires back on ombud debate; new podcast app hits Apple store

By Current Staff

• Former NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin has waded into the debate over his old job with a post on his blog. He interviewed New York University professor Jay Rosen, who wrote about NPR’s changes to the ombudsman’s job description and was criticized by NPR Chief Content Officer Kinsey Wilson and NPR Senior Vice President of News Margaret Low Smith for what they called “lazy” and “lousy” reporting. Rosen laid out how he approached and reported the story for Dvorkin and said he’d leave it to journalists to judge the merits.

• Marco Arment, a software developer who worked at Tumblr in its early days and founded the reading app Instapaper, has designed a new podcast app for iPhones. Overcast allows users to create smart playlists based on filters and sorting habits, speed up silences to condense podcasts and normalize volume across all shows (paging Adam Ragusea). Though the market for podcast apps is crowded, Arment gave it a go due to “a combination of just wanting to do it my own way and then also coming up with these couple of features that I thought were pretty good,” he tells TechCrunch.

• Beat Making Lab, a PBS Digital web series, kicks off its second season this week and was highlighted in Mother Jones magazine. It began in 2011 as a project in music production and entrepreneurship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has since grown into a worldwide effort to teach kids how to set up small studios to create beats.

• John Oliver enlisted the help of a few Muppet-like creatures on his Sunday-night HBO show Last Week Tonight. Oliver and the felt gang sang a song with the lines “It’s a fact that needs to be spoken / America’s prisons are broken” at the end of a 15-minute segment in which Oliver attacked incarceration rates and prison conditions in the U.S. Oliver also played a clip from Sesame Street in which the Muppet Alex revealed that his father is incarcerated. The clip is part of Sesame Street‘s “Little Children, Big Challenges” program, which aims to help kids deal with grown-up problems like divorce and incarceration of a loved one.

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